Interim Bullitt County sheriff lays out 3 issues he hopes to tac - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Interim Bullitt County sheriff lays out 3 issues he hopes to tackle

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BULLITT COUNTY, Ky. (WDRB) -- Wednesday was the first day on the job for Bullitt County's new sheriff.

But Sheriff Donnie Tinnell already knows the lay of the land, because he has held the job before. 

"I was here four years, and it was like coming home, Tinnell said.

After being sworn in on Tuesday, Sheriff Tinnell got right to work on Wednesday morning. He spent his first day addressing what he considers hot button issues, of which he says there are three.

"I had a brief meeting with my office manager, Merle French, about the budget and where we stood," Tinnell said.

The next issue is a hiring freeze. That included a tough conversation with two courthouse workers scheduled to attend the police academy and join the sheriff's office.

"I said folks, I hate to upset your plans but right now, that's canceled," Tinnell said.

Finally, he addressed who has access to police cars. Tinnell said special deputies were given cars with gas cards.

"To me, you can't do that," he said.

Tinnell also reached out to law enforcement agencies in surrounding counties about a common problem.

"We have major drug dealers in our community, in Hardin County, in Jefferson County, that needs to be dealt with," he said. "The more people you have working together, the better it will be."

Meanwhile, Tinnell inherited a staff that was there when he served as sheriff from 2007 to 2010, but he said even the ones hired by his predecessor are safe.

"I would never cost anybody a job because ... they supported Dave Greenwell against me," he said.

Dave Greenwell abruptly retired recently, and Judge Executive Melanie Roberts appointed Tinnell to serve the remainder of that term, which expires in 2018.

He said he won't run for the official position in 2018, but he also promised to spend the next two years building and bringing integrity to the office.

"We are going to be professional," Tinnell said. "We're going to do it right. You don't have to worry about your job. Everybody is secure in their job unless there's something going on that shouldn't be going on."

Judge Roberts said Tinnell was chosen by a selection committee. Tinnell believes it's because the two worked well together the last time he was in office and because he was fiscally responsible.

"She thought and seen that I was trying to do it right," he said. "I never -- one time in four years -- run my budget over and had to go to fiscal court and ask for money."

Tinnell has a 34-year career in law enforcement and even spent time with Louisville Metro Police. 

He said he loves law enforcement but admits there was some hesitation when he got the call. That hesitation had nothing to do with the job and everything to do with his two grandsons.

"One of them is 12 months and one them is 24 months," he said. "I've been keeping those children in the morning. I got in a routine of doing that and, man, I'll tell you what, you talk about stress, that'll bring you real stress -- grandpa duties. And I loved it."

As for the top hot button issue, Tinnell feels confident the budget will be fine. 

"I operated on about $3 million a year when I was here," he said. "I think it's up to about $4.5 million ... and I believe that is plenty of money to run this department."

Tinnell is also aware of the recent controversy surrounding the department that ended with a special deputy in prison.

"I can't explain that, and I am not going to try," he said. "I'm not judging anybody."

Tinnell admits he and Greenwell are not friends but said, "I don't have any bad things to say about Dave Greenwell."

There will no transition between Tinnell and Greenwell, but until the two complete and sign state tax documents, the Bullitt County Sheriff's Office cannot collect property taxes from residents. Click here for the Kentucky statute that explains the process:

Related Stories:

Bullitt County judge-executive appoints interim sheriff

Bullitt County Sheriff Dave Greenwell to resign

Bullitt County sheriff accused of 'serious criminal activity' in whistleblower lawsuit

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